For one thing, Primal Rage, unlike every other beat-’em-up in the history of all things, makes sense. People in masks leaping thirty feet into the air and conjuring fireballs have tended to leave me cold, but two-storey dinosaurs wrenching wedges from each other’s necks is obvious and fine. The overwheling grue, silly in Mortal Kombat, is here fitting. A deinonychus scramling up an allosaur’s chest to rake claws down its face is a right and proper things. The plain fact of the matter is, I’ve been having a tremendous time playing Primal Rage and in the excitement of racking up multiple-hit combos and ‘be’ing a dinosaur, I’ve barely noticed the absence of special moves. It’s abominable they’re so (needlessly) difficult to get working, of course, but my feats of honest pugilism have amused me greatly. The computer opponents have come on a treat since MK2 and provide a fierce challenge on the higher of the seventeen difficulty levels. Naturally, the two-player game affords greater time to master the (fatuously over-obtuse) special moves, and god luck to you. We didn’t really miss them. With the music cranked up, a fastish processor (which helps loading as well as playability) and a photographic memory for joystick movements it turns into an enjoyable beat ’em up. It’s not MKII though. Primal Rage can be as easy or as difficult as you like, thanks to a wealth of options at your command. There are no less than 16 difficulty levels, so even wimps can compete, though it must be said that anything less than level 10 will give you the wrong impression of the game – that it’s too easy. The easy levels are the best way to learn ALL of your character’s special moves and defensive routines, because beyond level 10 the computer opponents get serious, ducking and avoiding your best hits, learning your regular moves and putting up a constant barrage of death blows and their own special moves. Just in case you want to cheat or making things more difficult for you or a friend there is also a Damage Modifier option. This allows you to increase your own hitting power to 150% or decrease it to 50% which makes you more vulnerable. Having problems with a friend who always beats you? While they’re in the loo increase your power to maximum and decrease theirs to 50%. Hey presto, things are more even. The round time can also be varied between 30 and 80 seconds and the number of rounds from one to best of seven. The amount of credits can also be varied and for those times when younger children are around you can switch the Gore on or off. Marvellously entertaining, significantly more of a game than Mortal Kombat 2 and as good as a coin-op beat-’em-up as you’re likely to see, but lags well behind the Amiga-tailored Shadow Fighter. Firmishly recommended.

More news: Generation Amiga magazine